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Whiskey Avengers Bringing New Dub EP To Back Bar SoFA; New Full-Length On The Way

In Music
The Whiskey Avengers grew out of a melding of members from local hip-hop group The Language Arts Crew and Insolence.

The Whiskey Avengers grew out of a melding of members from local hip-hop group The Language Arts Crew and Insolence.

Cultivating a sound that draws upon a wide range of musical influences, running the gamut from reggae and ska to punk to soul and beyond, the Whiskey Avengers aren’t an easy group to categorize—and that’s just fine with them.

The Avengers—who formed in San Jose in 2006 but are now mostly based in the San Diego area—are more concerned with making good music and connecting with fans than with fitting neatly within the parameters of a specific genre.

“We’re a little bit of everything—a little bit of punk, a little reggae, a little gypsy-pirate music, a little bit of banjo/country/folk,” Stefan Meissner, the group’s singer and guitarist says. “We have a direction. It’s every direction.”

This Friday, Meissner and his bandmates, Clint Westwood and Kevin Higuchi, will be returning to their city of origin for a show at the Back Bar SoFa.

Meissner and Westwood grew up together in San Jose, bonding over their mutual love of music. The pair first joined creative forces in high school, co-founding the hip-hop group Language Arts Crew in 2000.

Six years later—almost by accident—Meissner and Westwood stumbled into creating what would become the Whiskey Avengers. The duo attached a ska song they’d written to the end of a Language Arts Crew album as a secret track and the response was overwhelmingly positive. They recruited Higuchi to play drums and the Avengers were born.

After making a name for themselves in clubs up and down the West Coast, and releasing three full-length albums and one EP, the core trio found themselves making the move to Southern California a couple of years ago.

“We did it for multiple reasons, we were kind of just getting stagnant, you know? Doing the same thing,” says Meissner.

Their time in San Diego has been fruitful. The band has recorded a new EP, “Ballads in the Key of Dub, Vol 2: Ro-Bit,” which they will release at their upcoming San Jose show.

“It’s a fun little project—a little rap/ska mixup,” Meissner says. “We used some old ska tunes, they’ve just kind of been re-vamped and flipped out, and we wrote some extra lyrics to them.”

In keeping with the feel and sound of their first dub EP, the group plays with preexisting instrumental recordings, chopping up the tracks, creating new parts and often adding different effects, such as heavy echo or reverb—“dubbing” over new components to the songs.

Meissner says that the dub series isn’t indicative of a change in direction, adding that fans can expect a new full-length album of original material out some time in the spring or summer of next year.

“We’re almost done,” he says. “We’ve recorded all the music and vocals, and we just have to wrap up some last minute tracks—that’s going to be the real one.”

Since the band moved, they’ve also gained some new off-and-on members—guitarists and keyboardists living in various parts of California and even Arizona that join the core trio at different shows, giving each gig its own flavor.

“It’s fun for us, because it’s always something different,” Meissner says. “We’re always mixing it up, doing different sets. It makes for a unique show every time.”

While the San Diego scene has been providing a supportive environment to gig and write, the members of the Whiskey Avengers are looking forward to coming back home and playing around the holidays—particularly at a space that holds some good memories for the band.

“It’s the back of the old Cactus Club, which is kind of funny,” Meisser says. “That was our old stomping ground, before this band—we were in other bands that played there—that was the best place in San Jose back in the day. Plus I haven’t been up there since February—and all of our friends are in the Bay Area.”

The Whiskey Avengers play Back Bar SoFA on Nov 28, 9pm. More info.

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